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Holly Bush Types

By Amber Kelsey ; Updated September 21, 2017
Holly bushes grow best in partial shade to full sun.

Holly bushes are perennial, broadleaf, evergreen shrubs that belong to the Aquifoliaceae plant family. Most holly bush varieties prefer medium moist, well-drained soils in partly shady to fully sunny locations. If you would like to plant holly bushes, select varieties according to your United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) hardiness zone, intended use, bloom information and mature plant size.

English Holly

English holly bushes (Ilex aquifolium) naturally occur in Asia, Africa and Europe. Winter hardy in USDA zones 7 to 9, this holly species grows best in the Pacific Northwest regions of the United States. Mature English holly bushes range from 30 to 50 feet in height and 15 to 25 feet in width. Fragrant, non-showy, white flowers appear in May, followed by red, yellow or orange fruits that mature in the autumn. English holly bushes also bear shiny, evergreen leaves. Leaf spot, powdery mildew, leaf rot and leaf miner infestations occasionally occur. Gardeners often plant English holly as hedges or foundation plantings.

Chinese Holly

Chinese holly shrubs (Ilex cornuta) range from 8 to 15 feet in height and spread. This holly variety bears rectangular, green leaves and white flowers that appear in May. These blossoms give way to red fruit that matures in the autumn. The Chinese holly likes well-drained, moist soils in partially shady to fully sunny locations. Native to Korea and China, this holly species generally performs well in USDA hardiness zones 7 to 9. Holly leaf miners, leaf spots and leaf drop occasionally occur. Chinese holly shrubs work well as hedges and foundation plants.

Japanese Holly

Japanese holly (Ilex crenata) features shiny, dark green leaves, green-white flowers that bloom in May and black fruit that attracts birds. Winter hardy in USDA zones 5 to 8, this holly species naturally occurs in Russia, Korea and Japan. Mature Japanese holly bushes form mounds ranging from 3 to 6 feet in both height and spread. This bush likes well-drained, acidic soils in partial to full sun positions. Nematodes and spider mites sometimes attack these shrubs. Gardeners frequently use the Japanese holly in foundation plantings and rock gardens.

American Holly

The American holly bush (Ilex opaca) bears spiny, evergreen leaves and non-showy, cream-colored blossoms that appear in May. These flowers give way to bright red berries that feed the birds. Native to the central and eastern regions of the United States, this holly variety thrives in USDA zones 5 to 9. Mature American hollies range from 15 to 30 feet in height with similar spreads. This bush likes moist, well-drained soils in partly shady to fully sunny positions. Whitefly, leaf rot and chlorosis sometimes occur. The American holly works well group-planted as hedges or foundation plantings.

Topal Holly

The topal holly bush (Ilex x attenuata) naturally occurs in the American South and generally performs well in USDA zones 6 to 9. This holly species ranges from 12 to 25 feet in height and 8 to 18 feet in width. Green-white blossoms appear in April and May, followed by small, red fruit that adds color to winter landscapes. The topal holly bush prefers moist, acidic soils in partial to full sun. Spittlebugs, scale and tar spot sometimes affect this plant. Gardeners often use topal holly bushes as screens, hedges and winter garden plants.